Potomac Theatre Project: Crave and Somewhere in the Pacific

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

In Sarah Kane’s Crave, four fragmented characters fear they will never discover where life begins; in Neal Bell’s Somewhere in the Pacific, soldiers en route to Iwo Jima fear they will soon find where life ends. Potomac Theatre Project—currently presenting these works in a double bill—should worry that Bell’s shipwreck of a play may cause the audience to forget Kane’s cannonading cadences.

Crave’s figures speak in circles without moving, but their dialogue is filled with action: Ravenous and earnest, the script demands emotional attention. A lonely child-rapist and a tormented victim are miles apart, but united as facets of Kane’s mind. “No one survives life,” goes one typically bleak line.

Somewhere contains similar fatalistic themes, but is deficient in urgency and sincerity. The playwright’s protagonists are rightfully jittery, but so is the narrative. Lacking a steady hand, the play drifts from realistic nervous breakdown to banana-peel comedy, from surreal nightmares to the lofty dreams of two gay servicemen. Bell never addresses these threads; instead, he torpedoes the boat, drowning the work in grandiose melodrama.

Jim Petosa manages to salvage some visual elements of the play in his staging, but Somewhere ultimately goes nowhere. Crave, which more directly deals with death, allows director Cheryl Faraone to avoid such cheap theatrics. Simple lighting establishes the tone, and the superb actors (especially Stephanie Strohm) fully exploit their jagged, lyrical lines. The unrelenting presence of poetic grief makes Crave a triumph; the absence of real grief just makes Somewhere sad.

Atlantic Stage 2. By Sarah Kane and Neal Bell. Dirs. Cheryl Faraone and Jim Petosa. With ensemble casts. 2hrs 10mins. One intermission.